MAy, 2019 | The Health
Malaysia are seeing rising numbers of mental health issues among youth as well as the adults.
takes centre stage
physical health are fundamentally linked, indicating
the need for holistic treatment approaches to include
behavioural health for better patient outcomes.
Behavioural healthcare is struggling due to a lack
of skilled personnel and sufficient infrastructure with
only 1% of the global healthcare workforce being able
to deal with behavioural health issues, while 45% of the
global population stay in countries with one or fewer
psychiatrists per 100,000 people.
Depression and anxiety form the top two segments
in the behavioural health disorders landscape.
The gender distribution of all mental disorders is
almost equal (48 percent females, 52 percent males),
while the most affected age groups are the younger
generations (15-29 years) and the middle-aged (30-49
It affects everyone
By June LIAng
t can happen to anyone – not just rock stars,
celebrities and comedians who seem to have it all.
Closer to home, recent incidents of people being
affected by depression and mental wellness in the
local community is testimony that mental illness
can happen to anyone and at any time.
has an economic
are affected by
to work and
Rising mental health issues
In September 2018, Malaysia Mental Health Associa-
tion (MMHA) raised the red flag and highlighted that
over the past year, there has been an alarming spike in
the number of teenagers and children in Malaysia who
are contemplating suicide.
The fragility of the human mental state of health
can drive anyone to contemplate suicide as a solution.
Recent events in the region have renewed the global
concern for mental health.
In fact, the cost of healthcare for mental illnesses is
set to rise to a whopping US$6 trillion in 2030 annually
from $2.5 trillion in 2010.
The global treatment gap in 2004 for disorders such
as depression and anxiety was more than 50% and more
than half of these patients went untreated. The situa-
tion has not changed significantly in 2018.
The need for a holistic approach
A growing body of evidence suggests that mental and
Mental illness has an economic impact and underpins
productivity. When employees are affected by stress,
anxiety and depression whether work related or oth-
erwise, the motivation to work and perform declines.
Mental illnesses take a severe toll on the patient,
family, and caregiver; the economic effects on the
patient as well as the nation are significant. The focus
is shifting to prevention, and this is likely to become a
norm in the future.
The above unmet needs situation also apply to the
situation in Malaysia. There is still much to be done to
build an integrated eco-system for mental wellness to
be dealt with from prevention perspective and care to
being easily accessible and administered at the appro-
priate point in time. timeliness is of essence.
Currently, mental health issues are addressed at the
tertiary level (hospitals), but the primary care level and
pre-primary can do so much more.
Subang Jaya’s mental health initiative initiated by
YB Michelle Ng and supported by a team of medical
volunteers looks to address the issue of mental health
from an early intervention approach. The Subang Jaya
Care Warriors concept looks at a two prong approach to
tackle the issue of mental health namely suicide preven-
tion by a team of clinical doctors and secondly, a team
of wellness experts whose role is to provide a bridge
to tackle this issue starting from a wellness-oriented
approach to building resilience at the community level
and amongst the youth in general.
Youths are empowered to better manage their
mental state of well-being and are able to impart the
wisdom of mindfulness, spread loving kindness, and
help navigate those in need of care to the relevant
places and avenues where accurate and quick help is
For more information on the Subang Jaya Care War-
riors program, please reach out to june.liang@frost.
com. — The Health
June Liang is the Country Head for Malaysia at Frost &